Sights and sounds of old Belgrade

 

Published in CorD Magazine

There are spots in Belgrade you must definitely see and feel. Streets, squares, monuments, parks, drinking fountains, archeological sites... and other sights that deserve recommendation. Many of them have been given the status of cultural assets.

In the inner area of the City of Belgrade there are over 5,500 streets, 16 plazas and 32 squares. The oldest streets that have retained their original routes are: Vase Carapica, Kralja Petra, Cara Dušana, Jevrejska, Narodnog fronta, Gavrila Principa, and Kara?or?eva Streets. The development of the street network started in 1867, after the Turks had departed, when the regulatory plan of Belgrade was adopted, which had been drawn up by engineer Emilijan Josimovi?.  

Knez Mihailova Street a pedestrian zone and shopping center is one of the oldest and most valuable monumental complexes of the city, with a large number of representative buildings and urban houses built at the end of 1870s. It is thought that in as early as the Roman times there was the center of the Singidunum settlement. In this area, at the time of Turks, there were winding streets with gardens, drinking-fountains and mosques. In the middle XIX century, in the upper part of the street was the garden of Knez Aleksandar Kara?or?evi?. After the making of the regulation plan of Belgrade in 1867, by Emilijan Josimovi?, the street has soon been built and gained its physionomy and content. The houses have been built there and the most influential and wealthiest families of the commercial and political society of Belgrade have come to live there. In 1870, the city authorities officially gave a name to this street - Ulica Kneza Mihaila.

HE "SRPSKA KRUNA" HOTEL, Knez Mihailova 56, was built in 1869 in the style of romantism, as a most modern hotel of Belgrade. Between 1945 and 1970 the National Library of Serbia was located in this building, and now there is the Library of the City of Belgrade.

MARKO STOJANOVI?'S HOUSE
, Knez Mihailova 53-55, built about 1889 as a private home of the lawyer Marko Stojanovi?, in the renaissance style. Here used to be the Academy of Fine Arts, established in 1937, and now there is the Gallery of the Academy.

The HOUSE of HRISTINA KUMANUDI
, No. 50, was built in 1870 as a corner building at the intersection of Kneza Mihaila and Dubrova?ka streets. For a certain period, this building was the residence of the French-Serbian Bank, and later of the consulates of Belgium and Great Britain.

KRISTINA MEHANA, No. 48, built in 1869 as an administrative-commercial building in which Krsti? brothers have opened a hotel under the same name, and where the meetings of the City Assembly took place until the construction of the Assembly's building.

THE BUILDING OF THE SERBIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND ARTS, Knez Mihailova 35, built in 1923-1924, by the plans of 1912 made by Dragutin ?or?evi? and Andra Stevanovi?, in style of academism with elements of secession. The building houses: the Library of the Academy, one of the richest in Belgrade; The Archive of the Academy with numerous materials about the history of Serbia; the Gallery of the Academy on the ground floor, with a special lecture hall, the bookstore and the antique shop.

ENDOWMENT OF NIKOLA SPASI?, Knez Mihailova 33, built in 1889, by the designs of the architect Konstantin Jovanovi? in renaissance style. as a residential house of Belgrade merchant Nikola Spasi?.

"GR?KA KRALJICA" RESTAURANT, Knez Mihailova 51, built in 1835 in style of academism.

"RUSIJA" HOTEL, Knez Mihailova 38, built about 1870 and annexed in 1920. Today it houses business offices of the "Rudnap" company.

 

 

 



Nemanjina Street: After the completion of the construction of the Railway Station in 1884, it became one of the main city communications. It got its name in 1896.

Kralja Petra I Street is one of the oldest Belgrade streets. It is thought that in the I and II century A.D. in this area were Roman forum, basilica and thermae (next to the present building of National Bank of Serbia, Kralja Petra I 12). In this street, in the XIX century, was the first official Belgrade pharmacy (instead of today's building at No. 8) and the first city hotel - "Kod Jelena" (between Gra?ani?ka and ?ubrina streets, pulled down in 1938). Today, the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Cathedral Church, as well as the oldest Belgrade restaurant - the "?" cafe - are situated in this street.  

Trg Nikole Paši?a is situated between Terazije, Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra and De?anska Street, it is the youngest Belgrade square. It was built in 1953, when a fountain was placed.

In the first half of the XIX century, this area was an empty field bisected by the road to Constantinople which was at this point in the process of developing into a street. The first name of this street was Golden Cannon Lane, after a restaurant of the same name, and this was later changed to Markova Street. Not far from the site of the present National Assembly, at the beginning of Vlajkovi?eva Street, stood the largest of the Turkish mosques, the Batal Mosque, which was pulled down in 1869.

Between two world wars the following buildings were constructed: the National Assembly (1936), Agrarian Bank (after the war the seat of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia), then the building of the "Vreme" newspaper (today the "Borba"), the "Beograd" cinema and others.

Trg Republike covers the space between the "Gradska Kafana" (City Restaurant), "Jadran" cinema, National Theatre and Army Hall of Serbia.


 


 

The present square was formed after the demolition of the Stambol Gate in 1866 and the construction of the National Theatre in 1869. The Gate had been built by the Austrians at the beginning of the XVIII century, and stood in the area between the present monument to Prince Mihailo and the National Theatre building. It was the largest and most beautiful town gate at the time when Belgrade was encircled by the moat. It was named after the road which led through it - to Constantinople (Istanbul). The square gradually started to acquire more buildings after the monument to Prince Mihailo was erected in 1882. Later, the biggest building on this square, the "Press House" has been constructed. The "City Restaurant" and the International Press Center.

Studentski trg
covers the space between Vase ?arapi?a and Uzun-Mirkova streets, around the Univerzitetski Park.

This is the oldest of Belgrade's squares. In Turkish times, it included the Turkish cemetery, which remained here right up to the 1860s. In 1824, the Serbian authorities set up a market-place in one part of what is now the University Park, and this later became the Great Market. During the planning of Belgrade in the years after 1869, the shape of Student Square was made more regular. One half was still the Great Market while the other was converted into a park. Then and later, the most beautiful feature of the square was Captain Miša's Building, which had been erected in 1863.

After the removal of the market in 1927, the park was extended to cover the whole space. 

 



Terazije is the most famous square in Belgrade. It Covers an area from Sremska Street to Kralja Milana Street. It started to take shape as an urban feature in the first half of the XIX century. In the 1840s, Prince Miloš Obrenovi? ordered Serbian craftsmen, especially blacksmiths and coppersmiths, to move out of the old moated town where they had been mixed with the Turkish inhabitants, and build their houses and shops on the place of the present square. Ilija ?arapi? (son of Vasa ?arapi?), who for a certain period was the president of the Belgrade Municipality, had a special task to assigning lots of land at Terazije to these craftsmen; whoever accepted to fence the lot, would have it for free.

With regard to the origin of the name Terazije, the historian and writer Milan ?. Mili?evi? noted that "In order to supply Belgrade with water, the Turks built towers at intervals along the water supply system which brought water in from the springs at Mokri Lug. The water was piped up into the towers for the purpose of increasing the pressure, in order to carry it further." One such tower was erected on the location of the present fountain at Terazije and the square was named after it the Turks called their water towers terazije (scales for water).

At the end of the XIX and beginning of the XX century, Terazije was the center of social life of Belgrade. The most important hotels, restaurants and shops were located here. Of the important buildings which used to be or still are at Terazije, the "Pariz" Hotel should be mentioned. It was built about 1870 at the place where the "Bezistan" is today. The old "Kasina" Hotel, built around 1860, was next to the "Pariz" Hotel. At this hotel, in 1918 the National Assembly of Serbia held its meetings for a while. The plays of the National Theatre have been performed here until 1920. The present "Kasina" Hotel was built at the same place in 1922. On this side of Terazije, between the world wars, there were the "Takovo" restaurant and cinema, and hotel "Moskva",built 1906.

In 1936, on the foundations of the old hotel, the new "Balkan" Hotel was built. On the site of a small "Albania" cafe, a palace of the same name was constructed in 1938.  

Trg Slavija is the space between Kralja Milana, Beogradska, Makenzijeva, Svetosavska, Bulevar oslobo?enja, Deligradska and Nemanjina streets.

Until the 1880s this square was only a large pool where the inhabitants of Belgrade went hunting wild ducks. The formation of the square started when an Englishman, Francis Mackenzie, a well-known businessman, bought a large piece of land above the present square and parcelled it for sale. Soon after that, Mackenzie has built a house for himself at Slavija (at the place where the old "Slavija" cinema used to be), which in 1910 was turned into the Socialist People's Center, a gathering place of the worker's movement.